Solutions

ACS International

"FileMaker is used throughout the systems we rely on to ensure the day-to-day running of our schools. It fulfils our needs as we continue to grow and evolve, and has the power to adapt to our greater processing requirements." says David Tolson, Database Manager for ACS International Schools."

FileMaker helps support a whole world of learning at ACS International

FileMaker forms the backbone of data processing operation.

Overview

  • School has standardises on FileMaker for its database requirements.

Industry

  • Education: ACS International Schools now educates 2,500 students aged 2 - 18 from more than 70 countries.

Solution

  • FileMaker forms the backbone of data processing operation.

Benefits

  • ACS is able to offer the best possible customer service.

Founded in 1967 to serve the needs of expatriate families, ACS International Schools now educates 2,500 students aged 2 - 18 from more than 70 countries. With over 600 staff, ACS’s world renowned curriculum includes all three International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes, and an American curriculum including Advanced Placement (AP) courses, enabling ACS graduates to attend many of the world's finest universities. There are currently three ACS International Schools located in Greater London with a fourth in Doha, Qatar.

Beneath scenes of scholastic serenity is a demanding team of teachers, academics and support staff.
Beneath scenes of scholastic serenity is a demanding team of teachers, academics and support staff.

The challenge:

On first impressions, visitors to one of ACS International’s London-based schools, at either the Hillingdon, Cobham or Egham sites, are struck by the magnificent grounds and buildings in which they are housed.

However, beneath these scenes of scholastic serenity is a demanding team of teachers, academics and support staff who rely on immediate access to information to ensure the schools run smoothly. This means a sophisticated network of databases and applications are required to administer the numerous systems underpinning the schools’ operations from student admission and performance records to catering, library and emergency contact systems.

With various operating systems and products being used throughout ACS International, any IT solution has to also guarantee seamless integration while ease-of-use is paramount for busy staff focused on delivering a world-class education. In addition, parents now expect to receive information about the school and their children’s performance online creating the need for information to be published to the Web simply and securely.

Couple these requirements with ongoing work to set up a fourth ACS International School in Doha in Qatar and it becomes clear the IT team need technology they can rely on. “ACS is growing and we need a database solution that can evolve with us,” says ACS’s database manager David Tolson.


One particular aspect of FileMaker that stands out is as a rapid application development tool that allows us to build an application and get it up and running, sometimes in a day.

—David Tolson, ACS International Schools, ACS International
The school has standardised on FileMaker for its database requirements.
The school has standardised on FileMaker for its database requirements.

The FileMaker solution:

ACS is a long-standing customer of FileMaker, having first used the technology almost 20 years ago. Since then, the school has standardised on FileMaker for its database requirements. “It forms the backbone of our data processing operation,” says David.

“We use FileMaker for numerous databases critical to the school and where we don’t use it we find the cross-platform nature of FileMaker makes integration, for example, with SQL databases, completely straightforward,” he continues.

But while FileMaker has supported ACS for nearly two decades, David is eager to emphasise its role in taking the school forward and providing teachers with tools that help improve the service they are delivering to today’s pupils.

He says: “One particular aspect of FileMaker that stands out is as a rapid application development tool that allows us to build an application and get it up and running, sometimes in a day. These are tools that enable staff to share data, run reports and charts, and link to the extranet.”

An example of an application developed in-house that David is particularly proud of is an electronic grade book that guides teachers in the assessment of students who may be studying in the same classroom but working towards different qualifications, be it the International Baccalaureate or other curriculum.

In fact, David and his team have become victims of their own success where FileMaker is concerned. “We are always busy with requests for new applications. Whereas before teachers would have written notes on a piece of paper, they find keeping all this information online where it can be accessed centrally makes their lives much easier.”

Paper-based reports and letters to parents also look like they are a thing of the past at ACS. According to David, increasing amounts of information held in FileMaker databases is now being made available to parents online via an extranet linked to the school website. Using secure log-ins, parents are able to access details of timetables and pupil’s performances among other things.

“We have many plans in this area and the list keeps growing. Our plan is to eventually have all information online and to present it in a fully interactive way – all underpinned by FileMaker,” he adds.

But in the meantime, David is involved in the technical side of preparations for the opening of the Doha school. With a seamless, efficient IT system in place in the UK, he sees no reason to change the model in Qatar.

“We are cloning the system in the UK and replicating it in Qatar, which means FileMaker will be as equally as important to us in the Middle East,” he adds.

ACS International Schools has relied on FileMaker to underpin its business for 20 years and continues to do so today.
ACS International Schools has relied on FileMaker to underpin its business for 20 years and continues to do so today.

Notable benefits:

  • Robust and lasting – ACS International Schools has relied on FileMaker to underpin its business for 20 years and continues to do so today.
  • Ability to evolve – FileMaker has provided a reliable backbone for the school to expand its business while the rapid application development tool means new applications can be created simply and quickly.
  • Ease of use – David reports applications developed in FileMaker require a “very short learning curve” for new users while he says databases can be “up and running in a matter of minutes.”
  • Improved customer service – Creating reports for teachers and making possible online information for parents means ACS is able to offer the best possible customer service.

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